It's a question that many parents who ski and snowboard ask themselves. Here’s how to make the best decision for your kiddo, plus tips on giving your child a great introduction to skiing.
There’s no set guideline for when kids are ready to try skiing for the first time. Some parents start getting their toddlers used to the slopes at two or three years old. Others wait until four or five.
Most ski schools, however, only allow children three years and older to enroll in lessons.
Consistency is the most important part of the learning process. Very few children will be 100% comfortable on skies from day one, but a few sessions in a row will help them practice and refine new skills.
Many parents opt to teach their kids themselves, but formal ski lessons are an excellent way to maintain consistency. With lessons, your child is also able to learn from an expert skier who understands how to work with young kids.
There are pros and cons to the renting versus buying debate. Owning all of the clothing and gear your child will need is the most convenient option. However, kids grow fast, and purchasing new gear isn’t always economical.
Renting makes sense if you only plan to ski a few times during the season, and your local ski area may even have its own rental shop with seasonal gear rental packages. Some programs also let you trade-up for a new size as your little skier grows.
If you want your child to learn to love skiing and other winter sports, they need to develop positive feelings about the experience. If the tears and tantrums begin, go back inside and try again another day — forcing them to stay outside when they’re not having fun isn’t the best way to introduce kids to outdoor activities.
Staying warm is a critical part of having a fun ski adventure — frozen toes and fingers are bound to ruin the day. As you likely already know, having the right layers is half the battle. Bundle up with thermal base layers, insulating layers, snow pants, a waterproof and insulated jacket, warm socks, mittens and anything else your child needs to stay comfortable.
Every kid is different, so test out your child’s clothing before heading to the lifts. Build a snowman in the backyard, have a snowball fight and make sure they stay warm and dry. A pre-ski trip gear test is a great excuse to make even more winter memories with your kids, too.